Matching Items (139)

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The Development of a Plant-Expressed M2e-Based Universal Influenza Vaccine

Description

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins,

Influenza is a deadly disease for which effective vaccines are sorely lacking. This is largely due to the phenomena of antigenic shift and drift in the influenza virus's surface proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). The ectodomain of the matrix 2 protein (M2e) of influenza A, however, has demonstrated high levels of conservation. On its own it is poorly immunogenic and offers little protection against influenza infections, but by combining it with a potent adjuvant, this limitation may be overcome. Recombinant immune complexes, or antigens fused to antibodies that have been engineered to form incredibly immunogenic complexes with one another, were previously shown to be useful, immunogenic platforms for the presentation of various antigens and could provide the boost in immunogenicity that M2e needs to become a powerful universal influenza A vaccine. In this thesis, genetic constructs containing geminiviral replication proteins and coding for a consensus sequence of dimeric M2e fused to antibodies featuring complimentary epitopes and epitope tags were generated and used to transform Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The transformed bacteria was then used to cause Nicotiana benthamiana to transiently express M2e-RICs at very high levels, with enough RICs being gathered to evaluate their potency in future mouse trials. Future directions and areas for further research are discussed.

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  • 2018-05

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Analysis of the prrAB two-component system regulatory effects on the lipid profile of Mycobacterium smegmatis

Description

The prrAB two-component system has been shown to be essential for viability in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of tuberculosis. To study this system, several prrAB mutants of Mycobacterium

The prrAB two-component system has been shown to be essential for viability in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of tuberculosis. To study this system, several prrAB mutants of Mycobacterium smegmatis, a close relative of Mtb, were created for study. These mutants included a deletion mutant complemented with prrA from Mtb controlled by Pmyc1_tetO, a deletion mutant, and a deletion mutant complemented with prrAB from M. smegmatis controlled by the native prrAB promoter sequence (~167 bp upstream sequence of prrAB). In a previous study, the prrAB deletion mutant clumped excessively relative to the wild-type strain when cultured in a nitrogen-limited medium. To address this irregularity, the lipid profiles of these mutants were analyzed through several experimental methods. Untargeted lipidomic profiles were analyzed by Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (ESI-MS). The ESI-MS data suggested the deletion mutant accumulates triacylglycerol species relative to the wild-type strain. This data was verified by thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and densitometry of the TLC images. The mycolic acid profile of each mutant was also analyzed by TLC but no noteworthy differences were found. High-throughput RNA-Seq analysis revealed several genes involved in lipid biosynthetic pathways upregulated in the prrAB deletion mutant, thus corroborating the ESI-MS and TLC data.

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  • 2017-05

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Enhancing the Expression Levels of Fabs in Escherichia coli

Description

Enhancing the expression levels of Fabs (antigen-binding antibody fragments) in Escherichia coli is a difficult field that has a variety of potential exciting implications. The field has grown substantially in

Enhancing the expression levels of Fabs (antigen-binding antibody fragments) in Escherichia coli is a difficult field that has a variety of potential exciting implications. The field has grown substantially in the past twenty years. The main area of difficulty is facilitating the entry of the antibody fragments into the periplasm of E. Coli, where the antibody fragments can be successfully expressed. Entry into the periplasm is difficult for antibody fragments due to their inability to fold in any other section besides the periplasm. Therefore it is necessary for the antibody to enter the periplasm in an unfolded state. Background research was done into inspecting the three primary methods of periplasmic entry: the Sec-dependent pathway, the SRP-dependent pathway (signal recognition particle) and the TAT-dependent pathway (twin arginine translocase). The Sec-dependent and SRP-dependent pathways were deemed more viable for expressing antibodies due to their ability to transfer an unfolded protein into the periplasm, which the TAT-dependent pathway cannot do. Academic research showed that the Sec-dependent and SRP-dependent pathways were equally viable methods, with more research being done into the Sec-dependent pathway, particularly of the OmpA signal sequence. Physical experiments were done using typical cloning procedures with slight modifications to the ligation step (Gibson Assembly was performed instead of normal ligation). These physical experiments showed that the Sec-dependent and SRP-dependent pathways were equally viable methods of periplasmic entry. The A4 and C6 antibodies were successfully expressed using these pathways. These antibodies were expressed on an SDS gel using 10% SDS. It was hypothesized that with further experimental modifications, using different signal sequences, Fabs can be expressed at higher and more consistent level.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Surveilling United States Sewage Sludge for Genetic Evidence of Genomoviridae & Microviridae Populations

Description

Following the journey through the sewerage system, wastewater is subject to a series of purification procedures, prior to water reuse and disposal of the resultant sewage sludge. Biosolids, also

Following the journey through the sewerage system, wastewater is subject to a series of purification procedures, prior to water reuse and disposal of the resultant sewage sludge. Biosolids, also known as treated sewage sludge, deemed fit for application on land, is a nutrient-rich, semisolid byproduct of biological wastewater treatment. Technological progression in metagenomics has allowed for large-scale analysis of complex viral communities in a number of samples, including wastewater. Members of the Microviridae family are non-enveloped, ssDNA bacteriophages, and are known to infect enterobacteria. Members of the Genomoviridae family similarly are non-enveloped, ssDNA viruses, but are presumed to infect fungi rather than eubacteria. As these two families of viruses are not relatively documented and their diversity poorly classified, this study aimed to analyze the presence of genomoviruses and the diversity of microviruses in nine samples representative of wastewater in Arizona and other regions of the United States. Using a metagenomic approach, the nucleic acids of genomoviruses and microviruses were isolated, assembled into complete genomes, and characterized through visual analysis: a heat chart showing percent coverage for genomoviruses and a circular phylogenetic tree showing diversity of microviruses. The heat map results for the genomoviruses showed a large presence of 99 novel sequences in all nine wastewater samples. Additionally, the 535 novel microviruses displayed great diversity in the cladogram, both in terms of sub-family and isolation source. Further research should be conducted in order to classify the taxonomy of microviruses and the diversity of genomoviruses. Finally, this study suggests future exploration of the viral host, prior to entering the wastewater system.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Investigating geopolymer-mediated adsorption of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus cells and secreted proteins

Description

The rise in community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and the ability of the organism to develop resistance to antibiotics necessitate new treatment methods for MRSA. Geopolymers (GPs) are cheap,

The rise in community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and the ability of the organism to develop resistance to antibiotics necessitate new treatment methods for MRSA. Geopolymers (GPs) are cheap, porous materials that have demonstrated adsorptive capabilities. In this study, GPs were investigated for their ability to adsorb whole MRSA cells and MRSA secreted proteins [culture filtrate proteins (CFPs)] as a complementary method of controlling MRSA infections. GPs have been synthesized with variable pore sizes (meso/macro scale) and further modified with stearic acid (SA) to increase surface hydrophobicity. Four GPs (SA-macroGP, macroGP, SA-mesoGP, and mesoGP) were incubated with whole cells and with CFPs to quantify GP adsorption capabilities. Following MRSA culture incubation with GPs, unbound MRSA cells were filtered and plated to determine cell counts. Following CFP incubation with GPs, unbound CFPs were separated via SDS-PAGE, stained with SYPRO Ruby, and analyzed using densitometry. Results indicate that macroGP was the most effective at adsorbing whole MRSA cells. Visual banding patterns and densitometry quantitation indicate that SA-mesoGP was the most effective at adsorbing CFP. Ultimately, GP-based products may be further developed as nonselective or selective adsorbents and integrated into fibrous materials for topical applications.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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The Development of a T Cell Receptor Expression System to Verify TCR Specificity of Expanded Clones from Whole Blood: The beginnings of Adoptive T cell Therapy and T Cell Receptor Prediction

Description

Immunology, the study of the immune system and its ability to distinguish self from non-self, is a rapidly advancing sector of molecular biology. Cancer, being host derived, provides a difficult

Immunology, the study of the immune system and its ability to distinguish self from non-self, is a rapidly advancing sector of molecular biology. Cancer, being host derived, provides a difficult challenge for immune cells to distinguish it from normal tissue. The historic treatment of cancer has had three main methods: radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery (1). Due to recent advancements in understanding the regulatory role of adaptive immunity against cancer, researchers have been attempting to engineer therapies to enhance patients’ immunities against their cancer. Immunotherapies, both passive and active, demonstrate potential for combating many diseases. Passive immunization provides temporary protection against a pathogen, whereas active immunization teaches the patient’s system to respond to the antigen independently, giving life-long immunity. Passive immunization, generally, is a much more expensive method of providing immunity and is commonly used in emergency situations. Anti-venom, for example, uses antibodies grown in lab to neutralize venom. Examples of active immunization are vaccines, which mimic the wild-type pathogen in a way that elicits an immune response, specifically naïve lymphocyte activation and maturation into memory lymphocytes. In terms of cancer therapy, both passive and active immunization are being tested for efficacy (2).

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Cloning Hepatitis B core-West Nile DIII DNA sequence into Gemini Viral Vector using Molecular Biology techniques.

Description

Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) are self-assembling structures that lack the viral genetic material. Therefore they are safer and more immunogenic than other forms of vaccines. The Hepatitis B core (HBc) VLPs

Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) are self-assembling structures that lack the viral genetic material. Therefore they are safer and more immunogenic than other forms of vaccines. The Hepatitis B core (HBc) VLPs are a novel mechanism through which delivery of DNA-based human vaccines are plausible. Production of VLPs require recombinant, rapidly replicating, plant-based systems such as the geminiviral replicon system. This project entails the cloning process of HBc-DIII fusion protein, a VLP that should form Domain III of the Envelope protein on West Nile Virus, into deconstructed geminiviral vector. The cloning process includes the HBc-DIII fusion protein DNA isolation, restriction enzyme digestion with NcoI and SacI, PCR changing the NcoI site on the HBc-DIII insert to XbaI, sequencing, ligation into geminiviral vector and transformation into an agrobacterium strain. The major impediment to the cloning process was the presence of multiple bands instead of the expected two bands while doing restriction enzyme digests. The troubleshooting process enabled speculating that due to the excess of restriction enzymes in the digestion volume, some of the DNA was not digested completely. Hence, multiple bands were observed. However, sequencing analysis and further cloning process ensured the presence of HBc-DIII insert band (approximately 800bp) in the Gemini vector. Lastly, the construct HBc-DIII in Gemini vector was ensured to be in agrobacterium for further experiments such as agro-infiltration.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05

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Muscle IGF-1 Regulation in Humans with Obesity

Description

Objective: Isoforms of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) gene encodes different IGF-1 isoforms by alternative splicing, and which are known to play distinct roles in muscle growth and repair. These isoforms

Objective: Isoforms of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) gene encodes different IGF-1 isoforms by alternative splicing, and which are known to play distinct roles in muscle growth and repair. These isoforms in humans exist as IGF-1Ea, IGF-1Eb and IGF-1Ec (the latter is also known as mechano-growth factor). We sought to determine whether mRNA expression of any of these isoforms is impaired in skeletal muscle of humans with obesity, and given that humans with obesity display reduced protein synthesis in muscle. Methods: We studied 10 subjects (3 females/7 males) with obesity (body mass index: 34 ± 1 kg/m2) and 14 subjects (6 females/8 males) that were lean (body mass index: 24 ± 1 kg/m2) and served as controls. The groups represented typical populations of individuals that differed (P < 0.05) in body fat (obese: 32 ± 2; lean: 22 ± 2) and insulin sensitivity (Matsuda insulin sensitivity index, obese: 5 ± 1; lean 11 ± 2). Total RNA was extracted from 20-30 mg of tissue from muscle biopsies performed after an overnight fast. Isolated RNA was used to perform cDNA synthesis. Real-time PCR was performed using predesigned TaqMan® gene expression assays (Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc) for IGF-1Ea (assay ID: Hs01547657_m1), IGF-1Eb (assay ID: Hs00153126_m1) and IGF-1Ec (assay ID: Hs03986524_m1), as well as ACTB (assay ID: Hs01060665_g1), which was used to adjust the IGF-1 isoform mRNA expression. Responses for mRNA expression were calculated using the comparative CT method (2-ΔΔCT). Results: IGF-1Eb mRNA expression was lower in the subjects with obesity compared to the lean controls (0.67 ± 0.09 vs 1.00 ± 0.13; P < 0.05) but that of IGF-1Ea (0.99 ± 0.16 vs 1.00 ± 0.33) or IGF-1Ec (0.83 ± 0.14 vs 1.00 ± 0.21) were not different between groups (P > 0.05). Conclusions: Among the IGF-1 mRNA isoforms, IGF-1Eb mRNA is uniquely decreased in humans with obesity. Lower IGF-1Eb mRNA expression in muscle of humans with obesity may explain the lower protein synthesis observed in these individuals. Furthermore, these findings may have direct implications for muscle growth and repair in humans with obesity.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Analysis of the Cellular Localization of PANK2 Mutations Using a Yeast Model

Description

Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, PKAN, is a neurological disease that is caused by biallelic mutations in the PANK2 gene, which codes for a pantothenate kinase. Some PANK2 mutations that cause PKAN

Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, PKAN, is a neurological disease that is caused by biallelic mutations in the PANK2 gene, which codes for a pantothenate kinase. Some PANK2 mutations that cause PKAN retain enzymatic activity. A possible explanation for the mutations that have residual activity but still cause the disease is that they do not have the correct cellular localization. The localization of PANK2 was studied through cellular fractionation. We found the precursor form of PANK2, pPANK2, appears to be anchored to the inner membrane of the mitochondria, and the mature form, mPANK2, is located in the inter-membrane space, IMS. However, the IMS of the PKAN causing mutants is completely devoid of mPANK2 which suggests some disease-causing mutations may be mislocalized. In addition, PANK2 catalyzes the first and rate limiting step in Coenzyme A biosynthesis, and in other studies, it has been shown that the CoA biosynthesis enzymes form a complex in yeast. Therefore, we also considered the possibility that PKAN-causing mutations that retain activity have altered interactions with the other CoA biosynthesis enzymes. Coimmunoprecipitation of the proteins in the pathway was done to determine if there were any interactions with PANK2. The results indicate that PANK2 does not directly interact with either PPCS or CoASY, the second and final enzymatic activities in the CoA biosynthesis pathway.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Evaluation of Plant-based Viral Vectors for West Nile Virus Antibody Expression Levels

Description

Plant viral vectors have previously been used to produce high expression levels of antibodies and other proteins of interest. By utilizing a transformed Agrobacterium with the vector containing the protein

Plant viral vectors have previously been used to produce high expression levels of antibodies and other proteins of interest. By utilizing a transformed Agrobacterium with the vector containing the protein of interest for infiltration, viral vectors can easily reach the plant cells making it an effective form of transient protein expression. For this project two different plant viral vectors were compared; the geminiviral vector derived from Bean yellow dwarf virus (BeYDV) and the MagnICON vector system derived from Tobacco Mosaic Virus(TMV) and Potato Virus X(PVX). E16, an antibody against West Nile virus, has previously been expressed using both systems but expression levels between the systems were not directly compared. Agrobacterium tumefaciens EHA105 cells were transformed with both systems and expression levels of E16 were quantified using ELISAs. Results showed very low expression levels of E16 using the geminiviral vector indicating a need for further investigation into the clone used as previous studies reported much higher expression levels with the system.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05